Innovation for Positive Change through the UNDP Saudi Accelerator Lab

November 23, 2021

In 2019, as a response to the rapidly changing challenges, the United Nations Development Programme established a global network of Accelerator Labs to demonstrate new ways of working in development with the aim of creating the largest and fastest learning network on Sustainable Development linking 91 labs to serve 115 countries around the world.

In line with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious and forward-looking vision to find innovative solutions to today’s challenges and its potential to benefit as well as benefit from successful experiences globally, the UNDP Country Office has joined this network by establishing a Saudi Arabia Accelerator Lab in Riyadh.

Investing in the Accelerator lab allows new opportunities to move away from  “business as usual” and find new avenues to accelerate towards the Sustainable Development Goals. This Accelerator Lab network is closely connected, with each tackling local challenges while learning and exchanging knowledge globally.

On Wednesday 17 November 2021, the Accelerator Lab in Saudi Arabia was officially launched.

Reaching sustainable development in alignment with the Saudi Vision 2030, Dr. Adam Bouloukos, UNDP Saudi Arabia Resident Representative, Reported by Lojein Ben Gassem - footage by Ail Aldhahri, Arab News. 

Reaching sustainable development in alignment with the Saudi Vision 2030, H.E. Mr. Faisal Kattan, Assistant Deputy Minister, Senior Economist, and Advisor to Minister of Economy and Planning, Saudi Arabia.

Guests from a variety of stakeholders (government, private sector, NGOs, academia and others) were introduced to the Accelerator Lab showcasing global examples of collective learning to accelerate sustainable development, ranging from promoting innovative COVID-19 responses to collectively confronting environmental impacts to supporting governments to develop an innovative national development strategy

The Accelerator Lab: Collective learning to accelerate sustainable development, Ms. Gina Lucarelli, Team Leader Accelerator Lab Network

The session was followed by an overview on sustainable innovation in the MENA region and how to move forward,

Promoting sustainable innovation in the MENA region, Mr. Tariq Al Olaimy, Co-founder, 3BL

as well as an engaging conversation and exchange of experiences on: What does the innovation ecosystem look like in Saudi Arabia? What are the challenges? How are we growing and how can we continue to develop it further? Under the theme: “Innovation for Positive Change: Local Reality and Challenges”.

Innovation for positive change: Local reality and challenges​. Panelists: Mr. Samer Kurdi, Ms. Amani Alshalan​, Ms. Shaykhah AL-Madkhali, Mr. Ghasham AlFares.

The United Nations Development Programme in Saudi Arabia is growing, and we aspire to embed innovation in our vision and in all projects and programmes. The Accelerator Lab is not a separate body, it works within the programmes with a common goal to redefine development, by adopting grassroots solutions, exploring unusual data sources and designing experiments to acquire empirical evidence, in partnership with relevant stakeholders.

We hope that the Accelerator Lab will enhance opportunities to explore new ways of partnering with UNDP to reach a common vision towards sustainable development.

We look forward to having you join our journey as we work out loud with the Head of Exploration Saud S. Alfassam, Head of Solutions Mapping, Layan Faisal Al Saud, and Head of Experimentation, Abdulrahman Ali Alghamdi.

To hear more from the Accelerator Lab during the event:

The Role of an Explorer, Saud S. Alfassam, Head of Exploration - UNDP Saudi Arabia

Exploration in Action, Ievgen Kylymnyk, Head of Exploration - UNDP Ukraine

The Role of a Solutions Mapper, Layan Faisal Al Saud, Head of Solutions Mapping - UNDP Saudi Arabia

Solutions Mapping in Action, Sesili Verdzadze, Head of Solutions Mapping - UNDP Georgia

The Role of an Experimenter, Abdulrahman Ali Alghamdi, Head of Experimentation - UNDP Saudi Arabia

Experimentation in Action, Lazar Pop Ivanov, Head of Experimentation - UNDP North Macedonia